Today is the 21st anniversary of the passing of my father, Carl Edward Kelley.
I’ve known many intelligent people, but my dad still ranks at the top of the list. He went to college at the University of Florida and he was very well-read. In spite of that, he was a blue collar man who fabricated metal for a living.
He built everything from machine guns to utility trailers during his lifetime. Before I was born he even built race car engnes. He passed at the age of 39 from heart disease; something that runs heavily in my family. I was 11 years old when he died. Back then, 39 seemed old. But now that I’m 32, I realize just how young my father was at his death.
He named me Rhett after the fictional character, Rhett Butler, from Gone With The Wind. He said he expected me to grow up to be a Southern Gentleman. He taught me manners and respect for those to whom respect was due. I like to think that perhaps my work ethic and the ability to turn raw materials into something useful are maybe some things in which I took after him.
We never know when our time here will be over; my father’s passing proved that to me. We just need to do all the good we can while we are here and be sure things are right between ourselves and God when we leave.
Photo: Dad sporting shaggy hair and a beard; building a utility trailer. Circa 1984.